What is getting smaller and smaller? That would be the runways I landed on today. It was overcast and as we had run through all the maneuvers the last two flights my CFI wanted to go visit some other airports. He said that as I get ready to solo he wants to make sure that I am comfortable with other airports in the area in the event that something happens at Chino and the runway is closed while I am flying. If so I would be comfortable diverting to another airport. He also wanted to make sure we hit some non-towered airports to give me time on the radios there and another towered airport to give me experience talking to a different airport.
The ceiling over Ontario to the north was a little low for us so he ruled that out for today. I was okay with that as I was a little nervous about going into a busy airport like Ontario with the jets they have landing there.
Instead, the flight plan was directly south to Corona, KAJO (non-towered), Riverside, KRAL (towered), and then FLABOB, KRIR (non-towered). He said FLABOB, KRIR (non-towered) is his favorite airport to do pattern work and touch and goes at because of the downwind transition to base. As you are flying downwind you are flying directly at Mt. Rubidoux (not really a mountian but more a hill). However you fly right at it and when you make your turn to base you are very close to it.
I mentioned smaller and smaller… I have been landing at Chino, KCNO with two runways to work with, 7000 x 150 and 4848 x 150. Plenty of room for a rookie to feel good about putting the plane down. First we headed to Corona with its runway of 3200 x 60. He had me making the radio calls and getting a good chuckle out of me mixing up the sequence that I was supposed to say things in. It all made sense and the other guy in the Cessna understood what I was saying, but I was obviously a rookie. Its still a good way to learn.
I had landed as a passenger once before taking a ride with my friend in his Mooney, but as the pilot it is a different experience. But, I successfully made three landings there before we took off and headed to Riverside. (No touch and go’s, it’s not allowed on weekends and there are tall trees off the end of the runway so given my tendency to not put the plane down on the numbers it wouldn’t have worked anyway.
I contacted Riverside on our way in and he had me enter on the downwind and report in. We came around for the touch and go’s. Riverside is interesting because as you are coming in there is a rise in the ground just before you reach the runway so it looks like the ground is coming up to you suddenly right at the end (it kind of is). KRAL’s runway is 5401 x 100 so I was back to a wide runway. We did 5 touch and go’s there and spent a few of the following a Cessna in the pattern. Good experience following someone. The first time I was behind her I was coming on the downwind and the tower brought her in on base and told me to follow her in. So I got to call out that I saw her and extended my downwind to come around behind.
We then left Riverside for my CFI’s favorite little airport, FLABOB. I mentioned small, well the runway at FLABOB is 3190 x 50. 50′ wide does not look very wide when you’ve been landing on runways that are 150′ wide. Sure enough, on the downwind we were pointed right at the mountain. Every time we turned to base we ballooned up a little because the winds pushed up the hill and carried us up a little too. We did three touch and go’s there at FLABOB. On the last one we were coming in high so he showed me how to slip the plane to lose the altitude.
We contacted Riverside again to transition through their airspace and then were back headed toward Chino. We had been talking a lot about stalls given some of the recent GA tragedies. He talked about how you can stall a plane out at any airspeed and wanted to show me. So I gave him the controls and he promptly stalled us out at 90 mph, well above our stall speed for clean configuration. That was followed by more discussion about the causes of stalls, warning signs, etc…
We flew back and landed on the nice 150′ wide runway at KCNO and the day was done. Another wonderful, fun, educational day up in the air.